New York Yankees: 15 Gifts for Christmas That Will Help Them in 2012
The offseason for general manager Brian Cashman and the New York Yankees has been lackluster at best. That being said, the Yanks certainly have a lot to wish for this holiday season to give them success in 2012.
Whether it's improving their roster, or getting an improvement from someone already on it, New York is hoping they don't find coal in their stocking this holiday season.
Here are 15 gifts the Yanks would like for Christmas that will help them next season.
Jesus Montero Rookie of the Year Winner
If Jesus Montero wins Rookie of the Year, then most likely he is becoming the player that many around baseball expect him to be.
Cashman has a lot riding on the young catcher considering he's turned down every offer he's gotten for a starting pitcher because they weren't "Montero worthy." Not that Cash has had that many viable offers, but a few of them would've normally been right up the Yanks alley.
But as it stands today, Montero will be a part of the 2012 roster and hopes to build on the impressive 18-game sneak peek we got last season. If he can put up the numbers many are expecting, Cashman will be even more validated in not giving up his best young player this offseason.
You can also throw learning how to play a position in with this gift as a stocking-stuffer.
A.J. Burnett Trade
Until the Yankees pick up more of A.J. Burnett's salary, there is no way he will ever be moved. That also depends on how Burnett does in the first half, but even if he's successful, the Yanks would most likely keep him anyway.
Burnett has been a disaster the past two seasons, and the Bombers would like nothing more than to catch a team sleeping so they can unload him and his bad contract.
The quicker Cashman can unload Burnett to another team, the quicker he can erase the memory of one of his less successful moves.
A Healthy Alex Rodriguez
It's bad enough that the Yankees are paying Alex Rodriguez a ton of money, but throw in injury problems plaguing the Bombers third baseman and you have yourself a bad situation.
A-Rod had a career low in games played last season as he battled injuries all year. It seems to be a trend that might not have peaked yet.
The Yanks can't think about that and have to hope Rodriguez can stay healthy all year. Not that the Bombers need anymore offense, but like money, you can never have enough offense. Not to mention, having a little extra next season would give an uncertain starting rotation more insurance.
Not that they will ever be able to justify his contract, but if A-Rod stays healthy, they might escape this one looking a little less dumb than they do now.
Eduardo Nunez Plays Better Defense
Showing a good bat last season, Eduardo Nunez showed he has some real potential in the MLB.
However, Nunez played terrible defense and seemed to be throwing the ball into the stands on a regular basis and in some of the bigger spots during the Yanks season.
That's got to change as Nunez will be the Bombers utility infielder and will give guys like A-Rod and Derek Jeter days off in the field. His bat also has the potential to produce a lot for New York. He can't continue to become a liability wherever he plays on the diamond.
Nunez also has plenty of interest from teams around the league, so the Yanks might want him to show he can play both sides of the ball to increase his trade value for a future deal involving a starter.
Phil Hughes Becomes No. 3 Starter Material
Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain were supposed to be the Yanks "Big Three" for years to come in their starting rotation. Kennedy is now playing in the desert, while Joba sits in the bullpen and is currently injured.
Hughes is the last chance for the Yankees to get anything out of the trio of young prospects they refused to trade. Hughes had arm problems to start the season in 2011 but came back looking a little stronger in the second half.
If his velocity can return, Hughes could resurrect himself. It might not be as the top prospect he entered the league as, but if he can help sure up the Yanks rotation behind Ivan Nova and CC Sabathia, it'll be a job well done.
David Robertson Continues to Dominate
Mariano Rivera staying past 2012 is a Christmas wish in itself after we learned he might no return after this upcoming season. But retirement is a reality in professional sports and at some point, every player must do it.
David Robertson certainly proved himself to be an important piece in the Yankees bullpen last season. He was as close to a long reliever as you could get in a bullpen when 2011 started but found himself setting up Rivera by the end of the season.
He made his first All-Star team and even got a vote for the AL Cy Young Award.
It was some season for Robertson and reminded you of 1996 when Rivera earned his way into the closer's role the following year.
Robertson has slightly more competition in Rivera than the Sandman had in '96, so the shoes are certainly big to fill. But one thing's for certain: if Robertson can pitch to a similar ERA this season, it might not be as painful to lose Mo.
And even that sounds like a stretch when I say it.
Ivan Nova Continues to Improve
Ivan Nova was a pleasant surprise for the Yanks last season, but now the pleasantries are over.
The Bombers were unable to improve upon their starting rotation from 2011 and need Nova to continue to develop into the reliable starter he was last season.
They certainly can't afford him to have a sophomore slump and regress into a lesser starter. There is a lot riding on Nova in 2012 and if he doesn't succeed, it could spell disaster for New York.
We already know what we're getting from Sabathia, but if Nova improves upon his rookie season, the Yanks would have one of the best 1-2 combinations in all of baseball.
Mark Teixeira Hits for a Decent Average
No matter how many home runs and RBI Mark Teixeira drives in every season, his horrid average always jumps out at you.
Imagine how much more production the Yanks could get out of their first baseman if he could bring up his average 30 points from the .248 he hit last season.
If he can just do that, combined with his stellar defense, Tex would be an MVP candidate every season.
Robinson Cano Wins MVP
The Yankees could possibly have one of the best hitters in Major League Baseball. Certainly, Robinson Cano has begun to make the case for that recognition with three very good seasons in a row.
To top it all off, he's been lights out hitting in the playoffs and driving in runs for a team that has had it's fair share of issues doing so.
If Cano wins the MVP, it will mean he's not only one of the best players in the league, but he's helping the Bombers win games and get to the playoffs.
It would further help make the argument that Cano is one of the best players in all of baseball.
Trade for Starting Pitcher
This is one where the Yanks could end up getting coal in their stocking.
After a total failure to get a starting pitcher this offseason, New York will be on the prowl for another starter the entirety of 2012.
Of course, guys like Felix Hernandez, Matt Cain and other pitchers of that caliber will be tops on the Yankees list. Expect standards to be high when the Yanks trade chips will be some of the most promising prospects in baseball.
At the end of the day, Cashman might find this is a gift not even Santa Claus himself could deliver.
Derek Jeter Continues to Play at High Level
Despite all his struggles and all the talk about Derek Jeter's career nearing its end, the Yankees shortstop answered that with a strong second half to 2011 and finished with a .297 average.
It funny how quiet things got once Jeter got hot and showed flashes of his old self.
If the Bombers don't want a major distraction this season, they should hope for Jeter to continue playing at a high level. It will silence all the fans who will be screaming for him to be moved down in the order or worse, benched for someone else.
Besides, with Nunez's defensive woes, the Yanks really don't have an everyday shortstop on the roster other than Jeter.
Yu Darvish Fails
If Yu Darvish becomes an ace for the Texas Rangers, or anything resembling one, Cashman and the Yankees will never hear the end of it from the portion of Yanks fans that supported bringing the Japanese star to the Bronx.
But if Darvish goes the way of Hideki Irabu, Kei Igawa or Daisuke Matsuzaka, then the $100 million it took to sign him will have been money well saved.
It's not that you hope for the failure of any professional athlete, but if you're the Yankees, you do in order to avoid a lifetime of criticism and Monday morning quarterbacking.
Situational Hitting in the Playoffs
Say what you want about the Yankees having the same rotation as last season, but it was their offense that did them in during the 2011 postseason.
Guys like Teixeira, A-Rod and Swisher had worse playoff performances than Jorge Posada, and that is a major problem.
Granted, Rodriguez led the Yankees to the 2009 World Series but has since reverted to his old Yankee self.
If the Yanks can get the same performances or slightly better out of their pitching, combined with Tex and the Yanks big bats showing up in big spots, 2012 could be another World Series run for New York.
Yankees Win Season Series with Bobby V and the Red Sox
It was no secret that the Boston Red Sox owned the Yankees last season, which was surprising considering the even history the two teams have had.
Well it's time the Yankees pay back the favor in 2012 by actually showing up during the multiple series with their division rivals this season. New York never allowed Bobby Valentine to beat them before and I don't expect them to start now.
If the Yanks can play at the level they did last regular season and improve their record against Boston, they could possibly win 100 games next season. It will certainly make winning the division a whole heck of a lot easier.
If all, or even just some of these things I mentioned actually happen in 2012, then the Yankees should be able to hoist up No. 28 come October.
It won't be easy, but with the offense the Yankees have along with their vast prospects to develop or trade, New York should be able to give themselves the pieces necessary to go all the way.
This will be the most important thing on the Yanks wish list this Christmas as it is every holiday season.